Isaac Brockbank, Sr.

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Isaac Brockbank, Sr.

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria, United Kingdom
Death: Died in Utah County, Utah, United States
Place of Burial: Spanish Fork, Utah County, Utah, United States
Immediate Family:

Husband of Elizabeth Brockbank and Sarah Brockbank
Father of <private> Brockbank; Elizabeth Bushnell; Daniel Brockbank; Christiana Brockbank; Susannah Brockbank and 7 others

Managed by: Mark Douglas Beck
Last Updated:

About Isaac Brockbank, Sr.

Abraham O. Smoot Company (1852) Age at Departure: 47

Bibliographical Sketch of Isaac Brockbank, Sr. by Isaac Brockbank Jr.

My father was the eldest son of Daniel and Agnes Morris Brockbank. He was raised in the locality of his birthplace, which was Bowness, Westmoreland County, England. He followed an agricultural life and made it an especial point to be a good farm hand, particularly a good plowman. He won many prizes at County Fairs that he attended during his early manhood. He took great pride in referring to such events in his later life. As he developed into manhood he tired of the monotony of a farmer's life and determined, much against the wishes of his mother, (his father having died early) to go to Liverpool.

He was always quite religiously inclined and early in life became attached to the Wesleyan Methodists. After his arrival in Liverpool he was appointed a class leader among that body. In his associations there he became acquainted with the young lady who afterward became my mother. She was a very zealous member. She had been bereaved of a husband by the name of Smith with whom she had lived but a short time, but the particulars of which I have never learned. Through the influence of the class to which she and my father belonged, a union was consumated.

At the time of his marriage to Elizabeth Mainwaring, he was employed in a brewery where he had learned the manufacture of ale and beer, of which he was always fond, and continued to make it for his own use, even in later life. He changed his employment to the Booth Water Company, and lived on the property of this company on Crosbie Street. Large cisterns of water and iron pipe for mains were kept here. During the day he was assigned to Queen's Dock, going among ships from all parts of the world, supplying their water needs and keeping an account of the same. Between his employment and his calling among the Methodists, he was well known and greatly respected as a sincere and faithful servant of the company he represented.

In the year 1843 my father heard Parley P. Pratt, a Mormon Apostle, deliver a discourse at the Royal Amphitheatre. He was so overwhelmed at the truth of the doctrine advanced that he could no more advocate the tenets of the Methodist faith. It was but a few weeks before he was baptized and became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My mother, however, still maintained her adhesion to the Methodists and used every means in her power to thwart her husband, and seemed filled with hatred for any person who claimed to belong to the Mormon Church.

To assist her in her antipathy, her Methodist friends would take particular pleasure in calling upon her in the absence of my father and urge upon her to do many things to show indignity to my father and his new friends. (Of course, such proceedings could not go very far the very without causing a rupture between them that was never eradicated.) That spirit of hatred seemed to grow upon her that she would resort to any means to get her revenge upon him and his associates and though often some of the American Elders would come to the house and try to reconcile her to calmly investigate the truths of the Gospel, she set her face against it as a flint and so matters continued. At one time she got so terribly upset because my father had gone to a meeting, called at that time a Council Meeting held on a week night, that she took all the Mormon books, papers, etc. that she could find and burned them. This, of course, intensified him and so he commenced a system of punishing her by flogging and though there were children born to him by her under this condition of affairs, there never seemed to exist any more comfort or happiness in the household afterward.

My father made up his mind to change his occupation, and having a little means, went into the retail meat trade. After a few months he went into the wholesale end of the business. In this he was associated with Brother Robert Wiley, a member of the Church. For a number of years they would go to the cattle market and buy live sheep and cattle and slaughter them and sell them to the retail trade. This seemed to be a lucrative business, but bad debts kept it from being too good.

My father made preparations for emigrating to America, getting ready, though I knew very well that my mother was very indifferent about it, seeming to treat the matter as though she did not purpose going. She used all the influence she could with us children to have us remain and let my father go. We had promised father to go with him, and at last my mother consented to go, as she said, solely on account of the children. After we got our outfit on shipboard, we sailed from Victoria Dock, on February 11, 1852. We boarded a merchant ship fitted for emigrants, called the Ellen Maria. The captain was named Whitmore and we had a rough voyage, with calms succeeding storms, and were eight weeks and three days in arriving at New Orleans. Here we transferred our luggage to a river steamer to go up the Mississippi to St. Louis.

Here we stayed two days and took the steamer St. Ange for Kansas City where we arrived in three days from that time. On our way up the river, we stopped for a short time at Atchison to see some of the sufferers by the steamer Saluda who had been blown up by the steamer boiler exploding while at the levee here. There were a number of the Saints on this vessel who were among the suffers. It was a sickening sight to see these unfortunates scalded and deformed, some without arms or legs and some without eyes. I was glad to get away from such suffering. Upon our arrival at Kansas, it was thought advisable by Brother Smoot, who was appointed the President of the Company, to remain here for sometime as the wagons which were being made at St. Louis were not near finished and might be several weeks before being placed at the disposal of the Company.

This was the first Company that had traveled over the seas under the auspices of the Perpetual Emigration Fund Company and on their arrival here, they had to be taken care of and sheltered. To do this, most of the Company was taken to a point about three fourths of a mile from the river on an elevation where they pitched their tents and were made as comfortable as the circumstances would permit. The brethren and sisters having just got off from a long sea voyage and having been dieted on the hard tack and the commonest kind of food without any vegetable, when they got to this point, some of them dug some roots that they had been acquainted with in the Old Country. However, when they came to use these roots for food, the cholera broke out in the camp. This was a very sad affair. Here was a company of several hundred saints, temporarily located among a people who were hostile to the whole Mormon community and who had made their boasts that they had assisted in driving the Saints across the river some years before and that they were on hand to go through the same performance again. But as the scourge in the camp increased, and the brethren and sisters were dying off, alarm spread through the surrounding country and the result was that Indignation Meetings were held, and propositions made to have the Saints removed. But as the scourge continued, they were afraid to go near the camp. At this juncture the wagons commenced to arrive for the company and though the cattle had not come, the people who were well soon took possession of the wagons and oxen were hired to take the whole company out on the prairie some seven miles west of Kansas. At the camping grounds in Kansas many distressing scenes occurred. There were over twenty deaths in a few days and the People were in a very poor fix to take care of them. Rude boxes of any kind were made use of and the dead laid away without much ceremony.

My father rented a small house about half a mile from the camp and close by another house was rented by Brother William Collinson and the Thomas family, who were related. The Thomas family consisted of the mother, two sons, and three marriageable daughters, all apparently in good health. Here a circumstance occurred that made a lasting impression on my mind as to the truth of the Doctrine of Plural Marriage. While death was carrying off many of the Saints and fear was manifested as to the result, the announcement of this doctrine was made public as a cardinal principle of the Church. This threw consternation around the Saints, especially those who were not firmly grounded in the faith. Mrs. Thomas and my mother were among this number. Mrs. Thomas went so far as to say that she would rather her daughters would die than that they should become the wives of polygamists. I did not pay much attention to this at the time as they did not come with us, but after we got started on the plains, word came to us that two of the three daughters had died and the other was very ill.

In making preparations for the journey across the plains, my mother still maintained her indifference and it was very disheartening to start on a journey of 1,300 miles and no unity for us children. There were four of us -- myself, and my sister Elizabeth, 16 months younger than myself; my brother, Joshua 4 years old, and my sister, Agnes a baby nursing at breast. There had been other children before leaving England either 3 or 4 but they had died in infancy, two of whom were buried in the Stanhope Street Methodist Chapel yard and another one at the Necropolis in Liverpool. I had forgotten to notice that at the time of my mother taking leave of her folks in Liverpool, she told them that if she was not suited on getting to the end of her journey at Salt Lake, that she would return to them. It was plain to us that she had this in her heart all the time and though she accompanied us, it was against her will.

However, as soon as the wagons and cattle were brought for our use, we loaded up our wagons and started out to where the train was then stopping, some 7 miles distant. On the way we got stuck in the mud at a small stream of water just west of Westport. We remained at this stream all night.

The next morning, we moved on to the camp of the Saints and found that there had been some more deaths but still the general health of the people was better and in a day or two, we rolled out for the Valley. This was about the first of June and as our teams were rather wild, we had to herd them along the best we could. In hitching up our team on the first camp ground, the wheel oxen swung around and twisted the tongue of the wagon so it broke but by splicing and wrapping with rope and rawhide it held together until we got through to the Valley. There was in the company 52 wagons, A. 0. Smoot, Captain; Chris Layton, 1st Assistant Captain. We journeyed along without any particular incidents occurring. The weather was delightful and our teams getting more used to the work and the drivers getting more used to handling them.

We traveled about a hundred miles a week. In the latter part of July, as we journeyed along, my mother seemed more reconciled to the situation. We had no idea that she had the least intention of leaving the train. Her baby was not yet weaned. Just before noon we came to a very steep hill and before going down it those who had been riding in the wagons got out. My mother did the same, and giving the baby to my sister. went down the hill to where there was a quantity of wild currant bushes. This was the last Place she was seen by any of the company. We didn't miss her until we were about two miles away. As soon as we found that she was not in the train, I took a mule and rode back to the place where we had last seen her. The next morning my father and Brother Layton took a light buggy and backtracked as far as Fort Laramie. They found her footsteps around a spring and also on the road leading to Fort Laramie. The only trace they found of anyone seeing her was two men from a sheep camp who told of seeing a woman who ran from the road when she saw them. They did not follow her. It was decided that the company should move on as the authorities at Fort Laramie had said they would forward any information. We arrived in Salt Lake City on 4 September 1852, being six months and three quarters from Liverpool.

We now began to realize what it was to be bereft of a mother, having a baby in our care and she Dun to this time living on the caresses and nourishment of a kind and indulgent mother. For no matter what her treatment was from my father, she was at all times willing to bear anything for the sake of her children and I cannot think, even at this time, that she willfully went away from us. My own idea is that she may have been quite despondent and tired and after getting out of the wagon, she may have lain down in the bushes and fallen asleep and on awakening found herself left behind and not knowing which way to go and wandering around, her brain would no doubt be affected by fear and despair and she would be oblivious to anything about her condition and most likely perished before getting to human aid. It took sometime to get the baby pacified, being unweaned. She cried night and day and the extra care devolved upon my sister Elizabeth. Of course we had the sympathy of the whole camp but no one could pacify the baby like my sister, consequently, she was pretty well tied and could do very little but care for the baby.

However, we got along tolerably well until my father took sick and had a serious time. He was confined to his bed on the wagon and became so reduced in flesh that many of the folks said that he could not possibly live. He had been getting worse for several days when one night he seemed to be suffering very much and he thought he would have to die. Several of the brethren got around him in the wagon and administered unto him and through their faith and prayers in his behalf, he immediately took a change for the better and very soon was able to he up again.

Being without the kindness and care of a wife my father was on the lookout for a companion. He knew of a sister named Sarah Brown who had been on the ship with us. As she was traveling in another company he made it a point to hunt her up. After some deliberation they decided to cast their lots together. Their wedding was celebrated at the home of Thomas Hall about the second of October.

On the sixth of October we rolled out of Salt Lake City as President Young had advised us to go south. We had two yoke of oxen, two cows, having paid one yoke of oxen for tithing. Bishop Hunter, who received them, could hardly believe that they had been driven across the plains. They were almost beef fat and ever afterward he would refer to those cattle with complimentary words. We traveled south and found excellent feed for our stock.

My father had purposed to go to Spanish Fork as he had good reports of that place. We traveled slowly, taking four days for the journey. We stopped at Palmyra Fort, which had just been surveyed. Finding a suitable piece of ground, we took off the box of the wagon and put up a small tent. We then dug a cellar for a shelter for the winter. It was not long before we had brush, cane and dirt on for a roof and in that cellar we took our abode.

Joshua and I slept in the wagon box until the weather became too severe. The next summer the Indians became hostile and the people moved to Spanish Fork and another fort was built at Main and 3rd South. We had two rooms in the southeast corner of the fort. We lived in one room while the other was used for Sunday School and religious meetings. A well was dug in the center of the fort to supply water. The two heavy gates at the south often admitted friendly Indians or Saints who came in and out when occasion required. After the Indians became more friendly many families left the fort and built small homes of their own. Father built a two-room adobe house on the northwest corner of Center Street and Main. Joshua remembered hauling the dirt, to make adobes, from Springville with an ox team. It took all day from daylight until dark to haul one load. The Presidency of the Church had advised the people to have the water of the Spanish Fork Creek conveyed on the bench by means of a large ditch, to be made about 11/2 miles long. In 1855 water ditches were dug and opened in the town and through the streets.

We had no chance for any employment and there had been very little grain raised in that locality, so we were under the necessity of disposing of some of our spare clothing for wheat. Money we had none and any kind of wearing apparel was in demand. After a time my father took on the job of threshing wheat. There was no machinery in the locality so my father used the flailing method, which he had used as a boy. We were paid our board and every tenth bushel of wheat. Though he had not done any hard labor in years he was not afraid of it. We took our small store of wheat twelve miles to have it ground into flour.

During that fall a great many settlers came to this section. Soon there were a great number of cellars dug out and occupied by the settlers. During that winter the town was nearly all underground, though a few had put up log huts.

The pieces of land were allotted by withdrawal of slips from a hat. This gave everyone an equal chance. The ground was uneven and had never been broken, and required two teams to break it up. The settlers combined their teams and helped each other out in this way. It became evident that this ground was not desirable, as it contained too much mineral. On the advice of President Brigham Young a new place was surveyed and plotted. We had to build a fort and wall as protection against the Indians. We also made ditches for water, which up to now had been hauled in casks. My father and I helped in laying out the new fort, carrying the chain and locating the ditches and streets.

The new piece of land, which my father got, was near the town site, and was the best piece of land he ever had. We moved there and built a home. A separate ward was organized with Brother William Pace as Bishop, and H. B. M. Jolly as first, and my father as second counselors.

My father had some peculiarities about his home government and the treatment of his wife and children that made matters very unpleasant. He was very penurious about furnishings to his own, but at the same time always a hand to aid others. In this way, he became very often the victim of unscrupulous men that live by taking advantage of their fellows. The family did not enjoy that degree of sociability that they might have, nor did the children feel that love and affection for their father that they might have had. A good deal of this was exhibited all through his married life, and I suppose he entailed it from his ancestry somewhere. I make this allusion to my father, not by way of censure, for I believe he meant to be a good man. He seemed to have the interests of the Church uppermost in his mind, and was willing to make any sacrifice for it. He loved to be regarded by his brethren and sisters as a faithful and upright man; at the same time he did not have the endearing confidences of his own family. He set such examples before them as would be worthy of their being followed. He was somewhat sulky and of an overbearing disposition and by it, entailing more fear than love among his own offspring. Still his children have all been faithful to the church and are strictly honorable and greatly respected among the people where they dwell and I trust that they all feel to profit by the experience that they gained before they left the family hearth and that they will be able to avoid the rocks and shoals that seemed to hedge up the way of their Father.

Isaac Brockbank, Sr., continued to live in Spanish Fork, where he played a big part in the growth of that town in spite of the handicaps of the adverse conditions of pioneer life. He was always active in his church and community.

An Historical and Genealogical Record of Isaac Brockbank, Sr., Volume I, Published 1959, Pages 25-31

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Isaac Brockbank, Sr.'s Timeline

1805
May 17, 1805
Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria, United Kingdom
October 6, 1805
England, United Kingdom
1838
November 9, 1838
Age 33
Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
1840
December 25, 1840
Age 35
Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
1840
Age 34
Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
1842
April 11, 1842
Age 36
Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
1842
Age 36
Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
1844
October 2, 1844
Age 39
Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
1848
May 15, 1848
Age 42
Liverpool, Merseyside, England, United Kingdom